Engineering professors receive nearly $1M in grants from Office of Naval Research

April 4, 2023


Two professors in the University of North Texas College of Engineering were each awarded nearly $450,000 in separate grants from the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

UNT had two winning awards selected by the U.S. Department of Navy HBCU/MI Program, which focuses on advancing research with Hispanic- and minority-serving organizations. The recipients are Nigel Shepherd, associate professor in materials science and engineering, and Hamid Sadat, assistant professor in mechanical engineering.

Shepherd’s project will use in situ Raman and infrared spectroscopy to define the processing rules that determine the microstructure, macrostructure and high-frequency dielectric response of additively manufactured electronic ceramics. This work will allow engineers to devise the properties and performance needed for advanced radio frequency applications. At a broad level, the new basic manufacturing science knowledge gained through this research will be useful for affordable manufacturing beyond the specific materials and applications in the study.

“The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that additive manufacturing will reduce manufacturing energy use by 50 percent and materials cost and waste by 90 percent,” Shepherd says. “This is good for the environment and manufacturing efficiency. We want to create a transformative capability to couple designed material performance with customizable, agile, affordable and high-throughput additive manufacturing.”

Shepherd’s research is part of UNT’s Center for Agile and Adaptive Additive Manufacturing, which is changing the face of manufacturing -- developing advanced material components for industries ranging from biomedical and energy to defense and aerospace -- with future-focused solutions and workforce training that will lead U.S. global competitiveness. Shepherd was previously part of a research team that earned a $5.5 million grant from the Army Research Laboratory to devise new resources for making bulletproof protection materials for soldiers.

Sadat’s latest research project will assess statistics of extreme ship responses in random waves. Such responses are considered as rare yet influential events since they define ship survivability. Despite the significance of such responses, they have hardly ever been investigated as it was nearly impossible to search through all wave environments to determine conditions resulting in extreme ship responses. Sadat’s team is developing innovative physics-informed stochastic mathematical models to rapidly identify all wave trails that potentially lead to extreme responses.

The study supports the U.S. Navy’s interest in developing computational tools capable of rapidly and accurately analyzing and evaluating naval structures to design survivable and persistent platforms, which is crucial for successful operations in all wave conditions. In addition, future persistent platforms must employ an intelligent control system to reduce sustainment requirements and be easier to obtain. The mathematical models developed in Sadat’s research have the potential to be integrated into those control systems.

“This will pave the path to developing intelligent control systems that are dependable in various wave conditions,” Sadat says.

Sadat previously received a $355,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to examine calcific aortic valve disease — the most common valve disease in elderly people that is found in nearly 2.6 million people worldwide.